Adobe in 2023: Transforming Marketing Through Digital Experience

By Robert A. Burgelman, Raj Joshi
2024 | Case No. SM379 | Length 20 pgs.

Adobe, founded in 1982, set out to develop software that would enable high-fidelity digital printing and publishing. A decade later, Adobe PDF quickly became the industry standard for preserving and sharing digital document formatting, fonts, images, and other elements across different systems. Within the next three decades, the world would generate more than 3 trillion PDF documents — as Adobe continued to innovate on new products and new opportunities to anticipate technology shifts and engage with customers.

This case study explores Adobe’s remarkable path, with company insights detailing the strategic thinking to position Adobe as a leader in cloud technologies, SaaS, and the science of marketing. Adobe’s journey from 2010 through 2023 was driven by the leadership team’s vision of the evolution of the marketing function, understanding how the company’s technology could provide superior value to customers, and being steadfast in the execution of the company strategy. Flexibility and ability to pivot were essential components of Adobe’s trajectory. And navigating the enterprise marketing space proved to be no easy task, given that the space was fragmented with many software firms offering niche solutions.

Learning Objective

This case study helps students to understand how companies succeed by adopting a long-term strategic outlook. Students also will discuss how this success depends on remaining nimble and quick to anticipate and adapt to the rapid pace of digital technology leaps, and the market opportunities they present.
This material is available for download by current Stanford GSB students, faculty, and staff, as well as Stanford GSB alumni. For inquires, contact the Case Writing Office. Download